Cheddar cheese has been associated with the color orange for centuries. Early in its history, cheddar cheese from the town of Cheddar, England, was made with milk that was rich in beta-carotene, which gave the cheese an orange hue. Ever since cheesemakers have added dyes like saffron or carrot juice to the cheese to re-create the orange color. Today, orange cheddar cheese is made with annatto, the seed of the achiote tree from South America.
Cheddar cheese is made with a process called cheddaring. After the milk is separated into curds and whey by adding rennet, the cheesemakers form the curds into large slabs which are stacked and flipped repeatedly. This process releases more whey and results in a denser curd, which creates the cheddar flavor and texture. The slabs are eventually milled to produce smaller curds, then pressed into molds where the cheese will drain and age to create different types of cheddar cheese. Mild cheddar cheese is aged from 3 to 6 months. Sharp cheddars are aged 9 to 12 months, and extra sharp cheddar cheese is aged up to 24 months or longer.